Before we look at Kefir’s potential super powers, let’s talk basics.
Have you ever drunk Kefir? I wonder...!
So, what is Kefir?
Kefir is a cultured milk beverage. It looks like milk, with a consistency similar to buttermilk.
It has a slightly tangy tart after-taste.
When cultured a bit longer it starts to fizz, the flavour gets sharper and the milk curdles into a cream cheese like consistency.
You either love it or hate it. There's not much in between.
Health Benefits of Kefir:
- Kefir is a great source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, Vitamin B1, B12 and Vitamin K
- Great news for your nervous system, as Kefir has a calming, stress-busting effect on you.
- It is also beneficial for your digestive system due to its probiotic properties. It has helped many people with candida and IBS symptoms around the world.
Kefir Grains or Kefir Starter Kit?
I bought the kefir grains, because they are meant to go on producing Kefir indefinitely. Bargain!
The alternative is to buy a kefir starter kit.
The organisms in the kit only last a few rounds, then they run out of steam, and you have to buy a fresh starter kit. Not bad, if you only want to try it out once, I guess. A bit pricy if you want to make this a habit...
Is Kefir Making Childsplay or a Big Mission?
The making is easy, but the daily maintenance to keep the Kefir production going is quite a mission.
The Kefir grains literally need to be looked after at least once or twice a day. To check on the state of the Kefir they produce and to make sure they have enough food.
Funny, I talk as if they are little "Beings", but hey, they ARE alive - and multiplying!
Even in the few weeks I've had them they have more than tripled in size! So I had to give some away and freeze some. Crazy!
Kefir making is a bit of a nuisance until you get the hang of it. It feels like tapping in the dark initially. But it's also exciting at the same time
Here's a short photo-tutorial I put together you how to make Kefir.
Does Kefir Cause Side Effects with Candida Sufferers?
Considering that milk contains sugar in form of lactose, you could presume that Kefir is not suitable for Candida Sufferers.
Apparently the little sugar gets used up during the fermentation process though, and the end beverage is fine to drink even for a Candida sufferer.
The same applies for the small amount of sugar left in kefir made from sugar kefir grains in a 3%-10% sugar/ water solution.
Judging from the comments about Kefir on Candida forums, it looks as if Kefir DOES cause symptoms in some people though.
Therefore it is recommended to consume only a very small amount at first (a few tbsp) and then slowly over time drink more until you can happily tolerate more, if you wanted to.
How did Kefir Effect Me on the Candida Diet?
Note: At the time of writing this I only have very few Candida symptoms. Most days I'm fine, and I'm still following a clean diet in line with stage 3 of the Candida Diet (mainly plant based, lots of protein, good oils, no simple carbs, very little fruit).
I started of with a small glass of goats milk kefir mid morning and mid afternoon (after 24 hr culturing).
The Kefir was quite bubbly and had a bit of a fizz to it, not hundred percent my thing, but drinkable, and I felt energized afterwards.
After a few days I noticed that I was getting constipated. On Kefir, huh?!
Now initially I really didn't think it could have been caused by the Kefir, but apparently it has!
People were talking about that curious phenomenon on the net.
- As it turns out, short fermentation (up to 24 hrs) makes a mild more milk like beverage and promotes bowel movements.
- A longer fermentation, basically letting the Kefir become more fizzy and solid, leads to a highly acidic beverage and a binding effect (=constipation).
What I failed to see was that I used a small container with a big batch of kefir grains, which fermented the milk much quicker than 24 hrs... duh, making it binding and therefore promoting constipation - just great! What a steep learning curve with these thingies
Any Side Effects from Drinking Kefir?!
I quickly developed sniffles, which indicated that I better slowed down on the extra dairy consumption, that my body wasn't used to.
Before this Kefir experiment, I had cut dairy pretty much out of my life (I was using rice milk and almond milk and very little goats milk). But since my kefir grains grew like mad and produced lots of Kefir, I couldn't bare chucking it away, so I drank it
Kefir can cause an Allergic Response in you!
Kefir in itself is not an antifungal, as it doesn't kill candida. On the flip side it contains many bacteria and (brace yourself!) yeasts that are having an impact on your micro flora.
There are two theories whether Kefir is helping to control candida:
- One theory is that kefir is good for Candida Sufferers (unless you are allergic to dairy).
According to this theory Kefir lowers the colon ph and supports indigenous bacteria in your gut.
In the process bad bacteria die, which in turn can manifest itself in symptoms just like those from candida "die off". Advocates of this theory say you should stick with the kefir regime until the good bacteria from the kefir outnumber the baddies. They are basically saying that the nutrient density in Kefir will give more health benefits than side-effects.
- The other camp believes that any reaction is not due to die off but simply an allergic response to the lactose, yeast or casein in the kefir.
Should You be Eating Kefir on the Candida Diet?!
This is something you need to gauge for yourself, based on how long you've been having Candida issues and how severe they are. If you have known allergies to dairy, yeast or casein then I'd stay away from kefir. At least for the first few weeks of the treatment.
A good test is whether you react to yoghurt. Eat some cows- or goats yoghurt or Sauerkraut and see how it affects you.
- If you get lots of mucus, that's not good news. And if you feel nauseous or bloated, then I'd definitely give the Kefir a miss for now, too. You'd only make yourself more ill.
- If on the other hand your symptoms are only mild and you generally feel good, without having sinuses problems, then I'd give Kefir a go.
In my opinion goats milk kefir is a great nutritional drink that you should enjoy after stage 3 when you are ready to transition back to a "normal" diet.
Kefir might give your immune system an extra kick and enable your native flora to finally dominate the territory again. But first you need to bring the candida overgrowth under control with antifungals to make space for the goodies.
What about Kefir made from Water Kefir Grains? Is that an alternative to avoid an allergic reaction?
If dairy doesn't agree with you, you could try water kefir grains and make kefir from coconut milk or soya milk for instance. Truth be told, I don't know anything about that
But I found an insanely comprehensive site about water kefir (and anything else related to kefir to that matter!)
Rather than regurgitating it all here, I'll just give you the link, so you can read up on it yourself if this is something that interests you.
After my success with goats milk kefir grains I'm keen to try my luck with water grains at some point this summer.
The idea of a healthy fizzy lemonade style beverage excites me.
But while it's still a bit chilly here in Cornwall (UK), I'm happy to stay with my current Kefir batch.
Plus I can't handle looking after yet another thing that needs to be fed, lol!